Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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05 Aug 2020

Today in Islamophobia: A coalition of advocacy organizations — including Muslim, human rights, anti-fascist and secular groups — ask advertisers in Times Square not to display images from a Hindu group that is celebrating the building of a temple on disputed grounds in northern India. Writing for The New Arab, Bridge Senior Research Fellow Mobashra Tazamal posits that while opposing Trump’s racist rhetoric is easy, Biden’s real test will be to engage meaningfully with Muslim Americans. Our recommended read today is by Imrul Islam on DHS, and its long history of profiling and surveilling Black, Muslim and immigrant communities. This, and more, below:

United States

05 Aug 2020

Trump is calling Portland protesters 'terrorists'. America's Muslims have been here before | Recommended Read

Right-wing pundits Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Tucker Carlson are leading a charge to rebrand the Portland protests into a campaign event for Trump. Those demanding change, we are being told, are anti-American, anarchists, and perplexingly perhaps, depending on who you ask, anti-fascist (Antifa). In the last few weeks, isolated incidents of violence - some allegedly orchestrated by white supremacists - have been magnified and manipulated by right wing media outlets to paint a picture of anarchy. America, the president and his posse tell us, is in danger from lawless terrorists. As a Muslim immigrant in America, this narrative of fear and the federal action it has inspired, feels familiar. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), after all, was created to keep people like me under watch. Post 9/11, as Islamophobia metastasised across continents, DHS anchored the US "War on Terror" at home by incorporating 22 agencies under one roof. Under the guise of national security, it began profiling individual behaviour, surveilling Muslim, Black, and brown spaces, and targeting peaceful protests and political groups. In 2007, DHS established the National Applications Office and used military satellites to spy on Americans inside the United States. In 2016, it launched the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programme, giving almost $10 million to counter potential "radicalisation" among "at-risk" individuals. Overwhelmingly, these programs targeted Black, Muslim, immigrant, refugee, and LGBTQ communities. Over the years, DHS has grown in both size and influence. Today, it employs almost a quarter of a million people and commandeers a budget of billions. It takes the lead on counter-terrorism efforts, cybersecurity, disaster relief, and border control, and in almost every instance, it either fails to meet its own objectives, or abuses its entrenched, broad based power. read the complete article

Recommended Read
05 Aug 2020

‘Squad’ member Tlaib leads in Michigan primary

“Squad” member Rashida Tlaib was trying to fend off a serious challenge for her House seat in Michigan’s primary on Tuesday, in a rematch with the woman she narrowly defeated two years ago. Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, was seeking reelection in the 13th District in and around Detroit. Her sole opponent is Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who lost by 1 percentage point in 2018 when the primary field was larger. Jones on the same day defeated Tlaib to fill out the remainder of John Conyers’ term. Tlaib, 44, was leading in early returns. But a large number of votes had still not been counted and the winner was not expected to be determined until later Wednesday. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Now that you're listening, Mr Biden, here's what Muslim Americans would like

Biden's address took a drastically different tone from the commonplace rhetoric of the past few presidential elections. Whereas in prior campaigns presidential candidates talked about or talked to Muslim Americans, and only in the context of national security, the former Vice President engaged with this diverse community and addressed numerous issues of concern - primarily the mainstreaming of Islamophobia. The election of Donald Trump ushered in a wave of open hostility and discriminatory policies targeting the country's marginalised communities. From the Muslim and African bans to the hollowing out of the American immigration system to the platforming of white nationalism, Black people and people of colour have been on the receiving end of particularly hateful rhetoric from the Commander-in-Chief. However, Islamophobia predates the Trump administration. Muslim Americans have long been on the receiving end of the government's discriminatory policies (from COINTELPRO during the civil rights era to today's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programmes), but this has been expanding in the years since 9/11. In response, the government ratcheted up its surveillance and criminalisation of the minority community, as the media supported these actions by framing Muslim Americans as a constant threat and questioned the community's loyalty. What Donald Trump's election did was mainstream these accusations and beliefs and instrumentalized them to garner public support for blatantly racist and Islamophobic policies. So for Biden, the bar is pretty low in terms of engagement with Muslim Americans. In the past couple of presidential elections, Democratic presidential nominees failed to acknowledge the concerns of the community. Instead, they too employed Islamophobia, stigmatising the community as they only spoke about them in the context of terrorism. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

‘The Fight’ Editors on Twists and Turns While Cutting ACLU Documentary

From Brett Kavanaugh’s rise to the Supreme Court, to the Muslim ban, to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Magnolia’s new documentary on the American Civil Liberties Union “The Fight” covers all these pivotal events. Beginning with the protests over the travel ban from seven Muslim countries in early 2017, “The Fight” follows four cases and four lawyers dealing with LGBTQ rights, immigration, abortion and voting rights. For editors, Eli B. Despres, Greg Finton and Kim Roberts, the key was telling character stories instead of providing a complete history of the ACLU. It was about telling a concise story in under 100 minutes without overwhelming the viewer and following the vérité experience of the lawyers. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Michigan's 12th district race: A win-win for Arab Americans?

Political newcomer Solomon Rajput is hoping to become the first Muslim to represent Michigan's 12th district and unseat Debbie Dingell, the latest iteration of a political dynasty that has controlled congressional seats in the state for more than 80 years. With an army of young people running and volunteering for his campaign, Rajput, 28, has tried to tap into issues he says negatively affect the Arab American community, which makes up a large percentage of the district's population. Rajput is committed to "racial justice in his support to abolish ICE [the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency] and withhold funds that would go towards the mistreatment of Palestinians", his campaign team told Middle East Eye on Monday. But going up against Dingell, 66, who has widespread support in the district's Muslim and Arab communities, won't be an easy task. "Congresswoman Dingell is a perfectly nice person, but she's not out there representing the values of our progressive district," Rajput told MEE earlier this year. Since assuming office, Dingell has voted in favour of blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and voted for ending the US's role in the war in Yemen. With Dearborn hosting a large Yemeni American population, Dingell has received endorsements from several Detroit-based newspapers, including the Arab American News, and the Yemeni American News. She has also been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump's Muslim ban, and both co-sponsored and voted for the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants Act (No Ban Act). read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Kris Kobach, the Nativist Vote Suppressor, Loses His Kansas Senate Primary

Kris Kobach spent the final days of his primary campaign denying that he’s racist. “If I’m a white nationalist, I’m not a very good one,” Kansas’ notorious Republican Senate candidate said at his closing events. In fact, this statement is entirely true. Kobach has the record of a white nationalist, just one who has repeatedly bungled his agenda. Kobach shares an agenda with President Donald Trump, one of a small cohort of national figures who can claim to be as anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and pro-voter suppression as Trump. And he can boast that he was advocating these policies before Trump fully embraced that agenda. Republicans’ problem with Kobach isn’t necessarily his policies, it’s that in recent years, he’s become a loser. Republicans have openly admitted that they spent money to defeat him in the primary so that they didn’t have to spend even more money to help him win in November. read the complete article


05 Aug 2020

India marks another day of erasure and insult against its Muslim citizens

On Wednesday, images and renderings of the Grand Ram Temple — which will be built on the the site of the Babri Masjid, an important mosque in Uttar Pradesh state demolished by right-wing Hindu nationalists— will be beamed across giant billboards in Times Square by a U.S. organization to mark the groundbreaking ceremony for the temple’s construction, which will feature Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying silver bricks as the foundation. Wednesday is also the anniversary of India’s decision to revoke the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, the Muslim-majority state where 7 million people have been living under a brutal military occupation and Internet blackout. The government is imposing another curfew on Wednesday in a region where thousands of young people have already been arbitrarily detained and journalists are facing censorship. Thus Aug. 5 will become another infamous date for Muslims in India — a day of increased repression in Kashmir, with the added insult of a grand function in the city of Ayodhya, where the Babri mosque’s destruction led to a nationwide attack on Muslims in 1992. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Temple event 'celebration of Islamophobia' - academic

In December 1992, a group of Hindu nationalists aligned to a minor political organisation called the BJP destroyed the 450 year old Babri Masjid - a mosque they claimed was built on the birthplace of their Lord Rama. More than 2000 people died in the communal violence that followed, most of whom were Muslims. Prime Minister Modi will lay the foundation stone at former site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya later today. Professor Mohan Dutta, from the School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing at Massey University says any celebration of the foundation of the temple needs to be seen in the context of recent history. "We are at this moment, globally, that this entire history of hate has been erased and the building of the temple is articulated as an apolitical neutral celebratory religious ritual event, divorced from this grotesque history that is connected to it" Professor Dutta says, since becoming government in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP party has changed in the Indian political landscape. "Not only the policy frameworks, the judiciary, the police have all been reorganised under this normative structure of Islamophobia" read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Muslim Democratic delegates reject party platform over aid for Israel, Iran sanctions

A coalition of Muslim Democratic delegates has rejected the Democratic National Convention’s proposed party platform, in particular for not pushing for the U.S. to end military aid to Israel and sanctions on Iran. The Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition is urging all delegates to vote against approving the platform during this week’s vote. The coalition was recently formed in hopes of pushing the party to “take more decisive action to improve U.S.-Muslim relations.” “There are definite inroads that were made in the 2020 platform versus the 2016 platform,” Nadia Ahmad, a delegate from Florida who co-founded the coalition, told Religion News Service. “But since a lot of the delegates in the Muslim coalition were primarily Bernie delegates, a lot of them are very disappointed that there hasn’t been more movement on progressive issues.” The party’s proposed platform “reject(s) the targeting of Muslim, Arab, and other racial and ethnic communities based on their faith and backgrounds at home and abroad.” “Democrats will also work to restore trust with our Muslim communities by ensuring the government’s engagement is not discriminatory nor viewed through a security lens,” the platform states. The coalition is made up of 100 DNC national delegates, including some from Virginia, New Mexico and Texas, among other states. In July, the group submitted a 17-page proposal detailing policy recommendations to the Democratic National Committee’s Platform Committee, urging the party to integrate Muslims’ concerns into the 2020 agenda. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Muslim groups demand arrest in ‘beef’ attack case

Several members of the Muslim community called on Gurugram Police Commissioner on Tuesday seeking immediate arrest of all the accused in the case pertaining to the attack on a pick-up van driver Lukmaan this past week on suspicion of transporting beef. Gurugram Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, in a letter to the Police Commissioner, urged him to “intervene and take appropriate actions that will assure Gurugram that these kinds of communally motivated attacks will not be tolerated and the Gurugram administration stands with its residents and is committed to protect the life and liberty of the Muslims”. They also expressed shock over policemen who could be seen in the videos of the incident as mere spectators to such a heinous crime. “The perpetrators of this crime seem to have no fear of even the policemen as these criminals can be seen misbehaving with our State police force as well,” read the letter. They demanded that Lukmaan be provided with the best medical assistance from the State. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Activists call for 'global spotlight' on plight of Kashmiris

Black Lives Matter, Palestinian, Uighur, Indigenous and Rohingya activists have come out in support of the people of Indian-administered Kashmir, calling for a "global spotlight on the suffering and their resistance", ahead of the one-year anniversary of the revocation of the region's autonomy by India's Hindu nationalist government. On August 5, 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government abrogated Article 370 of India's constitution that granted the Muslim-majority region a special status, with powers to make its own laws in all matters except finance, defence, foreign affairs and communications. The region was placed under an unprecedented security lockdown and internet shutdown for months following the decision, drawing condemnation from rights organisations and the United Nations. read the complete article

05 Aug 2020

Times Square advertisers asked not to run Hindu temple ad

A coalition of advocacy organizations — including Muslim, human rights, anti-fascist and secular groups — has asked advertisers in Times Square not to display images from a Hindu group that is celebrating the building of a temple on disputed grounds in northern India. The groundbreaking for the Hindu temple is scheduled for Wednesday in the Indian city of Ayodhya and supporters of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will gather in New York City’s Times Square throughout the day to mark the occasion. Modi will lay the first silver bricks at the temple site, which will be built on top of the Babri Masjid mosque, which Hindu hard-liners destroyed in 1992. The communal violence sparked by the mosque’s destruction also left some 2,000 people dead. Hindus believe their god Ram was born at the site and claim that the Muslim Emperor Babur built a mosque on top of a temple there. The coalition wrote to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, asking him to stand against the images of Ram and of the planned temple being shown in Times Square. They called the planned display Islamophobic and a symbol of violence against Muslims in India. read the complete article


05 Aug 2020

China Uighurs: A model's video gives a rare glimpse inside internment

As a model for the massive Chinese online retailer Taobao, the 31-year-old was well paid to flaunt his good looks in slick promotional videos for clothing brands. But one video of Mr Ghappar is different. Instead of a glitzy studio or fashionable city street, the backdrop is a bare room with grubby walls and steel mesh on the window. And in place of the posing, Mr Ghappar sits silently with an anxious expression on his face. Holding the camera with his right hand, he reveals his dirty clothes, his swollen ankles, and a set of handcuffs fixing his left wrist to the metal frame of the bed - the only piece of furniture in the room. The video of Mr Ghappar, along with a number of accompanying text messages also passed to the BBC, together provide a chilling and extremely rare first-hand account of China's highly secure and secretive detention system - sent directly from the inside. read the complete article


05 Aug 2020

Opposing Islamophobia in all of its intersections

Sidrah Ahmad-Chan and Niya Abdullahi are members of Rivers of Hope, an organization based in Toronto whose mission is "to dismantle Islamophobia, racism, and all related forms of oppression" in order "to create a safer and more equitable world for us all." Scott Neigh interviews them about Islamophobia in Canada, and about the work they are doing to address it. The list of high-profile manifestations of Islamophobia in Canada is long and serious, even just in recent years. There was the massacre of Muslim worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City on Janaury 29, 2017, by a white man with far-right politics. In that same year, there was the aggressive wave of Islamophobic organizing by the grassroots far right and within the Conservative party in response to a non-binding parliamentary motion called M-103 condemning Islamophobia. And then there is Law 21 in Quebec, which bans public sector workers from wearing religious symbols, and recipients of certain public services from covering their faces, in a move that in practice targets Muslim women. And all of that is without getting into the ways in which over the last three decades the Canadian state has participated in military action against multiple Muslim-majority countries, and has surveilled, targeted and harassed Muslim communities in Canada. All of that, however, is just the most publicly visible tip of the proverbial iceberg. From microaggressions, to discrimination, to verbal abuse, to harassment and assault, Muslims in Canada are subjected to all manner of everyday harms and indignities that seldom get mainstream attention. Muslims are of course as diverse as any other large group of people, and experiences of everyday Islamophobia vary a great deal according to the other oppressions that intersect in their experience -- Black Muslims experience Islamophobia bound together with anti-Black racism, Muslim women experience gendered Islamophobia, and so on. read the complete article

United Kingdom

05 Aug 2020

Why it's 'lazy and simplistic' to blame Covid on Leicester's BAME and Muslim communities

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced late on Thursday there would be some easing of measures brought in to combat a spike in coronavirus, while other restrictions would remain. Just hours before Eid celebrations were set to begin, people were forced to cancel their plans. The Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) has released a statement expressing concern for how the lockdown updates have been handled, saying: “It has amplified the real lack of planning or consideration, lack of meaningful representation and a distinct lack of understanding of the religious and cultural intricacies of citizens of this country.” After initial confusion, it was later clarified the lockdown would be eased so people could visit pubs restaurants and non-essential shops but visiting households and private gardens would be prohibited. Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the FMO said: “What is considered a blessed night of merry anticipation, proceeded into frustration and desperation intensified by mixed messages from some sections of the media and members of parliament. “This has naturally left the community feeling sad, disconnected and bitterly disappointed." read the complete article


05 Aug 2020

Leveraging International Justice for Lasting Peace in Myanmar

In recent years, international institutions such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and others have finally formally responded to protracted persecution and large-scale violence committed against ethnic minority groups – particularly the Rohingya – in Myanmar. This forum recognizes that these institutional responses are significant, and my colleagues’ contributions highlight how international accountability can illuminate ways forward toward justice and the rule of law in Myanmar. This article recaps the various forms of accountability – judicial and otherwise – that have emerged and considers how these various efforts could contribute toward a more comprehensive approach to secure lasting peace and democratic development in Myanmar. To those ends, I suggest that efforts to secure justice internationally must be linked to grassroots domestic initiatives aimed at strengthening inclusion, nondiscrimination, and the rule of law in Myanmar. read the complete article


05 Aug 2020

Muslim leaders, lawyers file 22nd petition opposing anti-terrorism law

Anak Mindanao Party-list Representative Amihilda Sangcopan, Deputy Speaker Mujiv Hataman, Muslim lawyers, a religious preacher, and a peace advocate filed on Tuesday a petition against the law, saying it threatens “to sacrifice liberty in exchange for security.” “Peace at any price is not peace, and the human cost is beyond exorbitant,” they said. In the 83-page petition, the Muslim leaders said it is a frequent occurrence that members of their community in Mindanao are dragged away by authorities “simply on suspicion” that they are partaking “in acts of rebellion, kidnapping, and what now constitutes terrorism.” The petition read: "This is prejudice and injustice based on unfounded fear of Muslims. It is religious discrimination, plain and simple.” It added that the contentious law threatens to legalize "these clearly abhorrent state actions.” The petitioners urged the Supreme Court to promptly address appeals to void the anti-terrorism law, saying the issues concern the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by both local and international laws. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 05 Aug 2020 Edition


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